If you look at the map of African Continent the thing which gets your most attention is the large Sahara Desert. It is clearly huge and covers at least one-third of the entire continent. The desert is spread from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. It is home to very rare species because of its harsh climate. The desert manages to attract a lot of tourists because of the adventures it offers. Researchers and Scientists are also attracted to solve its mysteries. The Sahara Desert is the harshest place on the earth. But its vast area makes it the most interesting place too. If you want to know more about this huge desert you are in the right place. Here are some Facts and Stats about it which will satisfy your curiosity.
Why the name Sahara?
It is the mightiest hot desert in the world. It is the place with the harshest climate in the world. Ever wondered how it got its name. If yes, then here is the answer. The word Sahara is derived from the Arabic noun ṣaḥrā which means “desert”. When the Arab explorers found this deserted land they name it in their mother tongue. Some of the researchers believed it is related to adjective ashar. This adjective means “Desert like” and also refers to the red color. Thus the great desert has its historic roots in the Arabic culture.
Is Sahara the biggest desert in the world?
Since childhood, we have been told that the Sahara is the biggest desert in the world. The answer to that fact is both yes and no. Before you get totally confused, here is the explanation. Sahara is not the biggest desert in the world. Actually, it is at number 3. The biggest desert in the world is Antartica. The second biggest is the Arctic. But it is the biggest hot desert in the world. Thus we can say the information we know is true but incomplete.
As we say it is the largest hot desert in the world it means it very huge. It has a surface area of 9,400,000 square kilometers which is 3,630,000 square miles. It shares a boundary with the Atlantic Ocean on the western side. Then we have Meditariean sea to the north and the Red Sea on the east. It shares a boundary with the valley of Niger river in the south. The desert is spread over Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mauritiana, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia. The land area is so huge that entire China can be placed in it.
How hot is it?
When people hear about the Sahara desert the only thing that comes to mind is a harsh climate. It is definitely the hottest desert on the earth. The average annual temperature of this desert is 30-degree Celcius. This temperature goes to as high as 58-degree Celcius. The climate is very harsh for survival in this desert. Statistically, it receives very little rainfall. More than half of the desert receives rainfall less than an inch.
Despite a very high temperature in the day, it takes a dramatic turn at night. During night temperature can drop to as low as -6 degrees Celcius. It happens because of extremely low humidity. This sudden drop in temperature results in snowfall at the top peaks of this desert. Thus if you are planning to visit this desert do remember its extreme climate.
What is Sahara made up of?
When it comes to imagining a desert you would imagine lots and lots of sand. The worlds greatest hot desert is also covered with sand. But it’s not all of it. Sahara is only 30% of the sand. The rest of this desert is mainly gravel. It has rocky plateaus, salt flats, mountains, and dry valleys. There are also seasonal rivers and streams. The only permanent river in the region is the Nile. There are also more than 20 Saltwater lakes in the desert. The only freshwater lake is the lake Chad. There are a lot of mountains in the region. The highest mountain peak is a volcano in Tibesti Mountains, Chad. Its name is Emi Koussi and it is 3,415 meters tall. Thus the great and huge desert has many mysteries of its own.
The huge Sand Dunes of the Sahara
When someone mentions the Sahara Desert, Sand Dunes is the first thing which comes to mind. The huge and enormous Sand Dunes which are spread over the desert are a treat to the eyes. But, how much exactly huge the Sand Dunes are. Statistically, these dunes can go as high as 450 meters. These dunes are located in the east-central Algerian region. The Sand Dunes change their shape from time to time because of severe storms. These Dunes are so popular in the region. They have been used in filming some action sequence for Hollywood movies. These gigantic Sand Dunes are the most untouchable part of this desert. Only Camels are the best possible mode of transport to visit these Dunes.
It was not always the Desert
The great Sahara Desert was once a lush green land. This Fact may surprise most of you but it is completely true. It has changed drastically in the past years. This change came approximately 5000 years ago. It was a result of the change in the earth axis. Years ago the Earth’s axis was tilted in such a way that Nothern Hemisphere was closer to the sun. This tilted Nothern Hemisphere resulted in Monsoon Rains in this region. Thus it was completely habitable and used to have rich Flora and Fauna. Now, years later the northern hemisphere is about a degree away from Sun. Statistically speaking before it was 24.5 degrees and now it is 23.5 degrees. It is expected that the great Sahara will be green again after some thousands of years.
People live in the Desert
The great Sahara Desert is the home for some peoples too. Though the population density is very low. There are still few of the tribes living in the desert. The low population density can be easily understood by harsh living conditions. There are about two million people living in the Desert. The predominant population in the region is that of Nomads. The Nomads are those people who travel from one place to the other. People who stay at one place is normally found at more habitable region of the desert. These regions are the Northern and Southern part of desert near Oasis. Thus the Sahara desert is a beautiful and mysterious place.